Preview: Hotbed Festival – The Junction, Cambridge

One of the trials for any writer is getting their new work from page to stage. Until you take the written word and hear it spoken it’s difficult for any playwright to really know if their idea works or not.

Although writing is something of a solitary craft it needs the input of others to help shape the creative process, and that’s where Menagerie’s Hotbed festival comes in. Celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2012, Hotbed will be filling Cambridge’s The Junction with events to inspire both writers and audiences.

A jam-packed programme of play readings, monologues, debates and workshops over four days, Hotbed is celebrating its first decade in real style.

For Menagerie’s Co Artistic Director Patrick Morris, the idea behind Hotbed is simple: to produce and showcase excellent new writing talent from the East of England and beyond.  
“We seek out writers who are willing to take a risk in their work and who value the energy and commitment which we bring to producing that work.”

Menagerie uses Hotbed to source all its main productions – many of which go onto national tours, London and Edinburgh.
“Hotbed is the spark for all of Menagerie’s main productions, eg. Four For Jericho (Hotbed 2009), went on to regional touring, Edinburgh Festival 2011 and international touring to India (Thinkfest 2011).”

At the heart of the festival are new commissions.  With the ink hardly dry, the festival features world premieres by some writers including Chris O’Connell Ed Harris, Janice Okoh and Steve Waters .  
“The air of excitement is palpable for both audience and performers and it’s this kind of energy which drives Hotbed.”

Alongside the premieres is a series of workshops, talks and opportunities to network. Guardian theatre critic Lynn Gardner will be chairing a discussion on the future of new writing, while award winning playwright Mike Bartlett will be leading a workshop for budding writers.

Morris is also enthused about the visit by Irish company Fishamble and their production of Silent. “It won a heap of awards at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, including a Fringe First and a Herald Angel. Having seen the show, we can vouch for it being an incredible experience for an audience.”

With so much happening it is perhaps unfair to ask Patrick to pick his highlights.
“There’s so much going on at the festival that it’s hard to say what’s the most exciting, and there really is something for everyone.  A Hotbed favourite is the One-Page Play Comp-Athon.  The concept is simple – anyone can enter a one page play and audience members get to vote on their favourite, with the grand final finishing off the festival on the closing night.”

The Hotbed Festival runs at The Junction, Cambridge, from Thursday 26th – Sunday 29th January. For more information visit http://www.menagerietheatre.co.uk

Originally written for The Public Reviews

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